Exodus International: Reparative Therapy Does Not Work
The leader of the country’s largest "ex-gay" Christian organization recently told the New York Times that reparative therapy is ineffective and could be harmful to patients.
Alan Chambers, 40, the president of Exodus International, told the Times that almost every "ex-gay" person he has met still has an attraction to people of the same sex -- himself included. He also told the newspaper that Exodus is going to stop supporting reparative therapy, which is a controversial type of therapy that can supposedly "cure" homosexuality.
Chambers, who is married to a woman and has two children, said that gay men and women could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.
"I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible," Chambers said. "But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else," he said.
Those who support the ex-gay movement have slammed Chambers for his recent statements, including Gregg Quinlan, a conservative lobbyist and president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays.
"I think Mr. Chambers is tired of his own personal struggles, so he’s making excuses for them by making sweeping generalizations about others," Quinlan said.
Robert Spitzer, a prominent member of the ex-gay movement, also retracted his views on reparative therapy in April. Spitzer, a psychiatrist who published a controversial study in 2001 that claimed gay men and women could change their sexual orientation through psychotherapy, retracted his findings.
"In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct," Spitzer said. "The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more." He added that the therapy "can be quite harmful."
In November 2011, it was reported that Exodus International was suffering from financial problems and held a secret meeting about fundraising where members of the group discussed "how to keep Exodus International from social and financial oblivion." Then in May, the organization cancelled its "Love Won Out" conference because of a lack of interest and funds. Exodus’ newsletter stated that there are not as many people interested in the group as the last conference the organization held barely brought in 400 people.
"It is with great disappointment that we are notifying you today that the Love Won Out Conference scheduled for May 19th at Legacy Church in Albuquerque, N.M., has been cancelled," Exodus’ senior director of events David Fountain said in an email, which was sent out to planned attendees.
Although many believe Chambers’ statements marks the fall or a large change of Exodus, Think Progress reported that the announcement is media hype.
"If Exodus is no longer going to offer reparative therapy, what is it going to offer? At the bottom of the NYT piece, Chambers says that ’many Christians with homosexual urges may have to strive for lives of celibacy.’ NPR admits toward the end of its story that ’Chambers compares same-sex attraction to adultery or pride,’ believes that ’homosexual acts are a sin because the Bible calls for heterosexual marriage’ and says that ’gay Christians must either be celibate, or if they want to marry, it must be with someone of the opposite sex,’" the article reads. "Their desire to not do harm is admirable - and with this change, they may in fact do less harm - but that doesn’t change the fact that anything short of sexual orientation affirmation is still harmful."
Despite Chambers’ intentions, it seems as though more and more people are recognizing reparative therapy as bogus and harmful. In April, a California Senate committee advanced a bill that would protect minors from having to undergo the treatment. Although the legislation does not directly ban the therapy, it does prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from receiving sexual orientation change efforts." The law also requires patients to sign an "informed consent form," which has a disclaimer.